We see products making claims based on ingredients that will deliver miracles in some cases. Here are some of the key ingredients to look for and what they actually do. Medical grade skin care products are more potent, use more concentrated ingredients and are allowed, by FDA law, penetrate below the epidermis (Something OTC products are not permitted to do). When buying products that will really do something for the skin we want ingredients that exfoliate old skin cells, make new skin (cell turnover), hydrate, thicken the epidermis, fade pigmentation (even out skin tone), decrease inflammation, destroy free radicals that age the skin (antioxidants), kill bacteria that cause breakouts, and repairs signs of aging.
Here area few of the proven ingredients to look for and what they do:
Vitamin A – (key ingredient in retinol and retin-A) The miracle ingredient that does it all: exfoliates, repairs, retexturizes, reverses photoaging, stimulates collagen, thickens the dermis to make skin appear smoother and plumper, cleans pores and impactions, strengthens skin barrier.
Niacinamide – A form of Vitamin B shown to reduce breakouts and symptoms of rosacea, strengthens the skin barrier, hydrates skin.
Vitamin C – very well studied, ascorbic acid shields skin from environmental damage, is an effective antioxidant, brightens and evens skin tone
Vitamin E – improves skin hydration, acts as an antioxidant and guards the sensitive skin barrier
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – a group of water soluble acids such as glycolic, lactic, and mandelic used for exfoliation, cell turnover, skin brightening, and anti-bacterial properties
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) – a group of fat soluble acids, most well known is salicylic acid, used on oily skin to exfoliate, brighten, and clear bacteria and debris
Hyaluronic Acid – a manmade replica of a naturally occurring substance in the skin that holds 1000x its weight in water. It plays an important role in cell production and hydration.
Glycolic Acid – A potent AHA (water soluble Alpha Hydrolic Acid) derived from sugar cane it encourages cell turn over, exfoliation, stimulate collagen production
Lactic Acid – An AHA derived from sour milk. It can clear and control acne, diminishes pigmentation, age spots, and encourages cell turnover
Mandelic Acid – derived from bitter almonds, this is the gentlest of the AHAs. It targets acne, age spots, discoloration, wrinkles
Epidermal Growth Factor – an amino acid, or protein, that stimulates cell formation and repairs skin damage as a result of aging
Peptides – Chains of amino acids that stimulate skin’s natural production of collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin to combat fine lines, wrinkles, and thinning skin
Caffeine – a powerful antioxidant capable of reducing and preventing UV induced free radicals
Hydroquinone – a lightening agent that decreases the number of melanocytes (part of cell that makes pigment) in skin cells
Algae – several types derived from seaweed benefits the skin by retaining moisture, repairing DNA, decreases pigmentation, and is antioxidant
Ceramides – complex lipids (fats) that protect the skin barrier
Resveratrol – derived from red grape seed, it is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant